There is a common belief that the difference between dogs and cats is that dogs are biddable, willing and eager to please while cats are independent, willful and aloof.
While some of these observations might be correct as dogs have been selectively bred to work for and with humans for hundreds of years, no cat owner could deny that cats are intelligent and absolutely can learn things that benefit them.
How many cats have learned to wake up their owners, demand meals at a certain time and even how to open doors?
Hungarian Scientist, Adam Miklosi, set out to test the intelligence and trainability of cats vs. dogs and what he discovered was that, while it was more difficult to get the cats comfortable enough to be willing to participate in many of his tests, when they did they performed as well or even better than dogs.
The relationship between humans and cats is thousands of years old and there are suggestions by some archaeologists, based on paintings in ancient Egyptian tombs, that cats may have been trained to assist humans with both hunting and fishing.
In modern times cats are far more likely to be trained for entertainment purposes on television and in movies.
The principles of animal training simply state that any animal can learn to perform any behavior, on cue, that it is physically and mentally capable of.
Perhaps many cat owners have been underestimating their feline friends.
Positive Reinforcement: Effective Training
It’s important to remember that cats do not respond well to force or fear, so any training involving domestic cats needs to be done in a positive and motivational manner.
In fact, most owners have already trained their cats to come when called, without even realizing it, by associating the sound of a can opener or bag of food with the positive experience of feeding time.
Cats in Hollywood
Some of the top cats in entertainment are trained with a method called ‘clicker training’, which works a little bit like the sound of your can opener, connecting a sound with a reward.
When you see cats on television or in movies riding on skateboards and doing stunts you never believed it would be possible to train a cat to do, this is the method is most commonly used.
You really don’t need any special skills to train your cat though. You can spend time and have fun with them using food and toys as lures and rewards.
With patience, practice and friendship, some trainers have been able to teach their cats to do pretty amazing things!
You may not see any point in training your cat, but teaching cats tricks or new skills can strengthen our relationship with them and provide them with useful mental and physical stimulation, so they might be less likely to do naughty things to get our attention.
If it makes you and your cat happy and is fun for both of you, then why not give it a try? Anything your dog can do, apparently, your cat might be able to do better.
Have you tried training your cat to do a simple trick like ‘fetch’?